SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Chicago-based aerospace giant Boeing Co. will invest $200 million to begin manufacturing the U.S. Navy’s latest unmanned aircraft at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, which is at least in the company’s southwest of Illinois. Can add 150 jobs. campus, officials said on Friday.
Boeing will build the Navy’s first carrier-based unmanned aircraft, the MQ-25 Stingray, in a nearly 300,000-square-foot (27,870-square-metre) state-of-the-art plant. The company is under contract to develop and test the craft since 2018.
Gathering at the airport in Muscotta, about 29 miles (47 kilometers) southeast of St. Louis, company representatives and politicians celebrated not only the expansion of Boeing’s operations, which currently employ 70.
With the promise of $57 million in state-funded improvements, they say it also represents a milestone for MidAmerica, which began civilian operations next to Scott Air Force Base in 1997, about its viability. To the derision of the critics.
“This state-of-the-art production facility here in Metro East further strengthens Boeing’s local presence and it extends Illinois’ legacy for our national defense…,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Boeing employs hundreds of Illinoisans and supports thousands more jobs across our state. I am extremely proud to have him as a partner in preparing our communities to build the 21st century.”
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According to Boeing, the MQ-25 Stingray, developed from a 2018 contract with the Navy, is a refueling aircraft that will substantially increase the combat range of the Navy’s nuclear-powered carrier-launched aircraft. “What we’re talking about is taking the carrier’s sphere of influence and doubling it,” said Dave Bujold, Boeing director of MQ-25 programs.
Boeing is getting a break of about $8.7 million on its state income tax liability in return for an investment of $200 million over 15 years and has already added at least 150 jobs in the 70s in MidAmerica, where Boeing lost nearly one. Decade set up shop and produced components. For CH-47 Chinook helicopters, F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft and other defense equipment.
Construction on the MidAmerica facility is scheduled to begin later this year and be completed in early 2024. Production will start by mid 2024.
Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of autonomous systems, Boeing Defense, Space and Security, called the Stingray’s technology “phenomenal.”
The facility will feature robotic automation and “advanced assembly technology”, aimed at superior product quality and employee ergonomics and safety. Officials said Boeing’s digital engineering of the MQ-25 and its systems really promotes product quality and efficiency.
The state’s outlay is coming from the ongoing $45 billion Reconstruction Illinois Capital Formation Plan approved in 2019. It has set a target of $57 million for the airport. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity previously issued $25 million in capital-funded cash to improve airplane taxiways to support the Boeing facility.
There is another $25 million that the Illinois Department of Transportation earmarked for additional taxiway and airspace improvements, and Pritzker’s administration has pledged a $7 million DCEO grant to update the passenger terminal.